Toyota Motor Corp. executive said that the company may exceed its sales target in China and as a result, it is thinking about starting production at a new plant in 2011 at the earliest. At the Beijing Auto Show, Masahiro Kato, president of the company's China business, told reporters that Toyota sales in China could surpass the 800,000-unit 2010 target.
Production will begin in late 2011 or early 2012 at the new plant in Changchun, Jilin province. The plant is expected to have an annual production capacity of 100,000 vehicles.
Toyota is beefing up its capacity in China, the world's biggest auto market, especially since its sales growth had trailed its largest competitors last year. Clearly, President Akio Toyoda is putting much importance on this market after it decided not to attend Europe's Geneva auto show in March.
Instead, he flew to China to apologize to customers after Toyota issued the recall of 75,552 locally made RAV4 sport-utility vehicles. Koji Endo, managing director of Tokyo-based Advanced Research Japan, said that China is a big market not just for Toyota but for all other carmakers.
He said that Toyota would "need to have more capacity in a market that will grow." Operations of the Changchun plant will be handled alongside joint-venture partner China FAW Group Corp.